Saturday, May 20, 2006

Somewhere in Rural England

Mrs. SR: Oh honey, you look so dour. It must surely be bad news.
SR: It is good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?
Mrs. SR: Of course, the bad news. We have had so much bad news, it is now almost like a warm blanket to me.
SR: You are too funny, but the bad news it is most...
Mrs. SR: They did not buy the rights, did they?
SR: No they did not.
Mrs. SR: But why? Every single American studio...why?
SR: They have their reasons.
Mrs. SR: But your book, it was a worldwide best seller. What can be their reasons?
SR: They say it will not sell. They say religion is a taboo subject. It is untouchable.
Mrs. SR: But that is a lie. What of “The Da Vinci Code”, “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”?
SR: That is different, they say.
Mrs. SR: How? How is it different?
SR: They say they can find no actors, no directors, no producers who even want a part of it.
Mrs. SR: Hogwash! With all the heroes in Hollywood?!?
SR: Woman, you slay me. But that is what they say. And they say even if the movie could be made, no theater would show it.
Mrs. SR: Maybe in Denmark...
SR: Nowhere. And they say if the movie were to be made and a theater were to show it, no newspapers would advertise it. No critics would review it.
Mrs. SR: Cowards! Cowards and hypocrites!
SR: Woman, do not be so harsh. It is only business, they say. They assure me that if they thought it would sell, they would pay top dollar.
Mrs. SR: Sometimes your naivete gets annoying. “The Satanic Verses” was a worldwide bestseller, Salman. They lie to you.
SR: Yes, I know. I know.
Mrs. SR: But you said you have some good news, let us hear it then.
SR: Ah, yes. Sony has agreed to buy the rights to my next book for ten million American dollars..
Mrs. SR: That is great news. What was the title again?
SR: “John the Baptist: Jesus on the Down Low”.

Crossposted @ Total Kaos Blog

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One of Those Moments

There was a time in my life, not so long ago I confess, when I hated to mow. It was a chore. A time consuming task invoking hours of pre-toil dread.
That was before.
Before the summer of drought. Before my lawn lay brittle, more brown than green. More dead than alive. A daily bitter reminder of my wasted appreciation.
Somehow, its slow slide towards death seemed to be my ride as well.
But that was last year. It is mid-May and the sky has not, as was the case last year, held its liquid life in check. It has been a wet Spring. A perfect Spring. For grass.
And for this writer, as well. The seemingly dead expanses stretching from one end of my suburban tract to the other have begun to green. To fill in with lush Kentucky teal. My lawn reborn from ocher ashes, like an emerald rising phoenix. New, fresh, alive.
And with it my love of mowing. I have mowed ten times already...easy.
But today is a little different. It has rained a lot this week. It has not been easy to find a break in the clouds of sufficient length to fulfill my self imposed responsibility.
But upon return from work today, the sun poked though and I was at it.
I had finished the parkway and was working on the front yard when the world turned black. I looked to the sky in time to see the clouds begin their circular rolling motion. The temperature dropped and the wind shook the wet from the maples.
It had not yet begun to rain and I determined to press on. I finished the front and was on to the rear yard, feeling more confident and sure by the moment.
But the darkness remained and the wind spun wild through the trees. Spinning and twisting, affecting an ominous dance.
I pushed on, mower roaring, wind blasting my face. It was a race now. Every new step was a moment closer to the finish line.
I could say here that the first flash of lightening simply strengthened my resolve. That the ensuing crack of thunder was drowned by the droning mower and ignored. That it was now nothing personal, but merely more yard work. But why should I lie.
It was me against it. A stumbling intrepid biped against the endless angry sky. A metaphor. Man against nature.
Then finally I had reached that point.
Any man who has mowed under the threat of rain knows that moment. That moment of no return. When no matter the torrent, the mowing would continue. When what is left of the yard demands the finishing of the thing. I had reached that point. No tsumani, no typhoon, no hurricane sent by God would stop me at that moment.
But the heavens are not impressed by the vanities of man. And an ebony glove settled earthward seemingly ignoring the unrelenting gale, grabbed the air and stopped it dead.
I paused, held by breath, then moved on. Just then the wind returned and with it the first drop of rain...
Sometimes one awakens and again remembers that life involves those little moments. Those times of strangeness and connectedness and oneness with the world. Time has a way of letting one forget that. I only relate this as to remind the reader to take the time to slow down. To look for those moments. To search them out.
...and for those among you who may still be wondering, “Did he finish yard, did he beat the rain?”
Well, let me just end by saying that that is between I and the sky.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Losing the War in Iraq?

Here is the full translation of the document seized by the U.S. military during an April 16 raid just South of Baghdad(found at It's long, but it's worth the read.
A glance at the reality of Baghdad in light of the latest events (sectarian turmoil)

1. It has been proven that the Shiites have a power and influence in Baghdad that cannot be taken lightly, particularly when the power of the Ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared with the power of the mujahidin in Baghdad. During a military confrontation, they will be in a better position because they represent the power of the state along with the power of the popular militias. Most of the mujahidin power lies in surprise attacks (hit and run) or setting up explosive charges and booby traps. This is a different matter than a battle with organized forces that possess machinery and suitable communications networks. Thus, what is fixed in the minds of the Shiite and Sunni population is that the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and closer to controlling it while the mujahidin (who represent the backbone of the Sunni people) are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government. The only power the mujahidin have is what they have already demonstrated in hunting down drifted patrols and taking sniper shots at those patrol members who stray far from their patrols, or planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones, which is an image that requires a concerted effort to change, as well as Allah's wisdom.

2. The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.

3. There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership level in Baghdad, the brigade leaders, or their groups therein. Coordination among them is very difficult, which appears clearly when the group undertake a join operations

4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.

This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).

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At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin's control and influence over Baghdad. .

5. The role that the Islamic party and the Islamic Scholars Committee play in numbing the Sunni people through the media is a dangerous role. It has been proven from the course of the events that the American investment in the Party and the Committee were not in vain. In spite of the gravity of the events, they were able to calm down the Sunni people, justify the enemy deeds, and give the enemy the opportunity to do more work without any recourse and supervision. This situation stemmed from two matters:

First, their media power is presented by their special radio and TV stations as the sole Sunni information source, coupled with our weak media which is confined mainly to the Internet, without a flyer or newspaper to present these events.

Second, in the course of their control of the majority of the speakers at mosques who convert right into wrong and wrong into right, and present Islam in a sinful manner and sins in a Muslim manner. At the same time we did not have any positive impact or benefits from our operations.

6. The mujahidin do not have any stored weapons and ammunition in their possession in Baghdad, particularly rockets, such as C5K Katyosha or bomber or mortars which we realized their importance and shortage in Baghdad. That was due to lack of check and balance, and proper follow-ups.

7. The National Guard status is frequently raised and whether they belong to the Sunnis or Shiites. Too much talk is around whether we belong to them or not, or should we strike and kill their men or not?

It is believed that this matter serves the Americans very well. I believe that the Committee and the Party are pushing this issue because they want to have an influence, similar to the Mujahidin's. When and if a Sunni units from the National Guard are formed, and begin to compete with the mujahidin and squeeze them, we will have a problem; we either let them go beyond the limits or fight them and risk inciting the Sunnis against us through the Party's and the Committee's channels.

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I believe that we should not allow this situation to exist at all, and we should bury it before it surfaces and reject any suggestion to that effect.

8. (Salah), the military commander of Baghdad (he used to be the commander of the Rassafah County and still is) is a courageous young man with a good determination but he has little and simple experience in the military field and does not have a clear vision about the current stage and how to deal with it Most of his work at al-Rassafah County is to take cars to the Jubur Arab Tribes, convert them into booby traps and take them back inside Baghdad for explosion. And the more booby trap cars he makes, the more success he has. This alone is not a work plan and we do not benefit from it in the medium range let alone the long range.

9. (Salah): The current commander of Northern al-Karkh (Abu-Huda) is very concerned because of his deteriorating security situation caused by being pursued by the Americans, since they have his picture and voice print. Therefore, his movement is very restricted and he is unable to do anything here. We should remove him from Baghdad to a location where he can work easier; otherwise he is closer to become totally ineffective. I know nothing about his past military experience or organizational skills.

10. (Salah): Northern al-Karkh groups are estimated at 40 mujahid, so is the Southern Karkh. They could double that number if necessary. Al-Rassafah groups in general is estimated at 30 mujahidin as I was informed by the commander of al-Rassafah. These are very small numbers compared to the tens of thousands of the enemy troops. How can we increase these numbers?

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Sounds to me like someone's winning and someone else is losing...bad.